Moors Murderer Ian Brady has hinted that a shotgun unearthed near the suspected burial site of one of his victims could be his.
The antique Eibar double-barrelled weapon was found wrapped in a polythene sheet under rocks last year on Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester.
The discovery was made by campaigners searching for the grave of 12-year-old Keith Bennett who was murdered by Brady and his accomplice Myra Hindley in the 1960s. Despite pleas from his mother Winnie Johnson, who died in 2012, Keith’s body has never been found.
When asked about the find in a letter sent to high security Ashworth Hospital by 5 News correspondent, Julian Druker, Brady replied: “Shotgun? I had two shotguns, two revolvers, two rifles, and an automatic, strategically placed. The police only got the revolvers and one rifle”.
Brady’s one-page letter was written in January. It is thought to be the first time he has ever made reference to the weapons.
The 78-year-old, who is being force-fed against his wishes after embarking on a hunger strike in 1999, has been held in a psychiatric unit at Liverpool’s Ashworth Hospital since 1985.
Greater Manchester Police, which subsequently carried out tests on the shotgun, told 5 News: “We examined the gun to see if it could be linked to any criminal incident that has occurred nationally. However due to the amount of time it had been in the ground, the degradation was so much that there were no forensic opportunities available.”
But Bill Harriman, from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), and one of the country’s leading experts in firearms says the Eibar gun is consistent with the era Brady was active and may have been buried in a hurry.
He said: “The popularity of this type of weapon really blossomed in the 1960s. Whoever did stash it didn’t make a very good job of it. I’ve seen guns that come out of the ground in the 1930s that were really well protected and there’s very little wrong with them.”
Brady and Hindley admitted the murder of Keith Bennett in 1987, but their method of killing him was never clear.
When the gun was first discovered, investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas told the Sunday Post: “Someone doesn’t just walk up on to the moors and hide a gun there.
“We do know that Brady was linked with armed robbery and that he certainly was planning one.
“When you put it all together, you certainly get something that is suspicious. Could this be Brady’s gun? It could be very significant.”
The brother of 12-year-old John Kilbride, who was murdered by Brady and Hindley in November 1963, says Greater Manchester Police now need to conduct a thorough search of the part of the Moors where the shotgun was found.
“That area needs to be looked into. What’s a shotgun doing there? I’ve always thought the police should have continued the search”, Terry Kilbride said.
In 2009, GMP officially gave up the search for Keith Bennett, saying that only a major scientific breakthrough or fresh evidence would see the hunt for his body restart.
Brady and Hindley killed five children between the ages of 10-17 in the 60s.
Hindley was convicted of two of the murders and shielding Brady after another murder, and given a life sentence. She died in jail in 2002 aged 60.
In 2014 Brady’s mental health advocate Jackie Powell said she believed he was showing signs of dementia.
Brady lost a legal bid to be transferred to a jail in 1985 on the grounds that he is mentally insane.